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ADHD and Grape Seed Extract

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Learn how grape seed extract helps ADHD. What are the food sources and dosages? Is it safe? Drug interactions and more.

Millions of parents are frenzied over the fact that not only have their kids been diagnosed as having ADHD or attention disorders but that the prescribed treatment involves powerful stimulant medications. 

Grape Seed Extract literally provides parents and kids with a new lease of life. It presents a natural and effective way to alleviate ADHD symptoms. 

Grape Seed Extract is not a conventional medicine and is far less expensive than traditional drug therapies. It is safe to use and considered beneficial in alleviating ADHD symptoms in both children and adults. 

Grapes have been considered useful in the medical field for years. Many natural health experts agree on the benefits of grape seed extract for ADHD treatment. 

The use of grape seed (Vitis vinifera) extract in ADHD therapy began from an accidental discovery of its efficacy for the medical condition. The grape seed extract was used at the beginning by ADHD patients to treat allergies. However, a growing number of reports showed that the herb improved the symptoms of ADHD especially attention and mental focus.

What Are OPCs?

Grape seed extracts contain OPCs which are sometimes called pycnogenols. OPCs have antihistamine and antioxidant properties. Their ability to lower histamine and thus inflammation is the reason they were initially used to treat allergies.

Other medical uses of the OPCs include in the treatment of arthritis, edema, night blindness, varicose veins, and for strengthening capillary walls.

OPCs abound in the plant kingdom. They can be found in the leaves, seeds, barks, and fruits of many plants. However, they are commonly extracted from grape seed and pine bark.

The diversity of plant sources containing OPCs makes it difficult to accurately measure their contents in foods. However, wines and fruit juices contain high amounts of OPCs.

While there are only a few studies on the effectiveness of grape seed extract for ADHD therapy, researchers agree that ADHD patients can benefit from grape seed extract based on the overwhelmingly positive results of the studies done.

How Grape Seed Extract Works

One researcher compared the benefits of grape seed and pine bark extracts to stimulants such as Ritalin which are routinely prescribed for ADHD. The herbal extracts provided about the same improvement in ADHD symptoms as Ritalin.

The exact mechanism of grape seed extract action on the brain is still unknown. However, given that the herb contains OPCs (oligomeric proanthocyanidins), 4 possible explanations are given for the efficacy of grape seed extract in ADHD treatment.

  • OPCs are known to increase the level of nitric oxide in the blood. This causes the vasoconstriction of blood vessels and increases blood flow to the brain. The net effect of the vasodilation caused by nitric oxide is to reduce depression and fatigue and possibly increase mental focus and attention.
  • OPCs regulate enzymes that control the levels and activities of the two neurotransmitters most important to outcomes in ADHD: dopamine and norepinephrine. These brain chemicals are responsible for relaying signals at the junctions between nerves and are also the neurotransmitters targeted by every ADHD medication. However, grape seed extract acts on these neurotransmitters differently. In fact, a recent study showed that OPCs reduce the amount of both neurotransmitters and, in this way, reduce excitation and hyperactivity.
  • Apart from increasing blood flow to the brain through the action of nitric oxide, OPCs also help transport essential nutrients to the brain. These include zinc, magnesium, selenium, and copper. Deficiencies of some of these nutrients produce symptoms similar to those of ADHD. This has led researchers to believe that the same areas of the brain are affected and that supplementation with these minerals can help improve ADHD symptoms.
  • Lastly, OPCs are potent antioxidants. Therefore, they help mop up harmful free radicals in the body. This action can help prevent damage to neurons in the brain as well as protect brain cells.

Grape Seed Extract for ADHD - How it Helps 

The main healing ingredient found in grape seeds is oligomeric proanthocyanidins, also known as OPCs. It also contains Vitamin E, flavonoids, and linoleic acid. 

OPCs boasts several health benefits, including antioxidants and antihistamine properties. They are not only helpful in relieving ADHD symptoms, but also aid in reducing cancer risk, heart diseases, and skin disorders. 

The OPCs found in grape seed extract are useful to ADHD patients because they support the proper functioning of the brain. 

The body's production of neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin require Vitamin C. And, as OPCs aid Vitamin C work better, they support the production of the neurotransmitters. 

Children and adults with ADHD are also prone to having food allergies and sensitivities, as well as a scarcity of essential fatty acids. 

The linoleic acid found in grape seed extracts is one of the five essential fatty acids. You can use grapeseed oil for cooking to help replenish your body with this essential oil. It can also help with other food sensitivities. 

Norepinephrine and dopamine are effective in regulating attention disorders and hyperactivity. When they are not produced in sufficient amounts, symptoms of ADHD can occur. 

Food Sources and Doses 

Grape seed extracts can be found in natural ADHD supplements. A recommended dose for adults is 50 to 100 mg, two to three times daily with meals. 

However, this supplement is not recommended for children. Other ways of getting the health benefits of grape seed extract include using grapeseed oil for cooking or taking fresh grapes as snacks. 

Is It Safe For Me? 

Grape seed extracts are mostly well-tolerated and safe without any side effects. In clinical trials, it has been used safely for up to 8 weeks. 

Side effects that have been rarely reported include indigestion, dizziness, itchy scalp, high blood pressure, headache, hives, and nausea. 

Even in long term use, grape seed is non-carcinogenic and non-toxic. It does not cause any birth defects or cell mutations. 

Are There Any Drug Interactions? 

There are no known drug interactions. The grape seed extract is safe to take with other supplements or medications. 

However, it is always recommended that you check with your health care practitioner before taking any supplement if you are already on prescribed medication. 

For more information about ADHD treatments, read our articles on DMAE, GABA, and Iron for ADHD.

Next Article: ADHD & GABA - Will it Help?